Bicyclist remains on life support

Travis Swinson, who was hit by an SUV while riding his bicycle last Wednesday, is on full life support. Courtesy Elizabeth Swinson Wade

Raymond Swinson Jr., the man hit by an SUV while riding his bike on U.S. Route 11 in Strasburg last week, is still in “very critical” condition, said his sister Elizabeth Swinson Wade.

“He’s on life support,” she said. “They don’t know if he’s going to wake up. There’s extensive damage to his brain. … They (his doctors) haven’t really given us any percentage. They say that we have to take baby steps. … It’s still very critical.”

Wade said that doctors at Winchester Medical Center recently tried taking her brother off of some of the life support apparatus to see if he was able to breathe on his own, but determined that he was not able to do so.

Wade said that prior to that news her emotions had been limited to concern for her brother.

“My anger didn’t really come out until today, when I was told that he was on full life support,” she said. “Reality really hit me.”

Swinson, 24, works at Blue Ridge Barbecue and was on his way home from work when he was struck by an SUV driven by Earnest Tharpe III, 34, of Strasburg.

Tharpe was been charged with driving under the influence and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle.

Swinson sustained major head trauma in the accident.

Wade said that Swinson recently moved to Strasburg to live with his father.

“He works like 40-hour weeks,” Wade said. “He had just moved from Staunton like two months ago to get his life in order and he was doing great. He had finally started to do better for himself and then this happened.”

Wade said that she never thought she or her family would ever be impacted by a situation of this nature. Now she said she wants to get involved in combating drunken driving.

“I always hear it happening to other people, but none of us thought that this happened to us,  but in all reality it could happen to anybody,” she said. “I’m 27 years old and I have two kids of my own and I’m pregnant with a third one so I definitely see myself joining MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and doing anything I can do to be involved.”

Wade has setup a GoFundMe page at http://tinyurl.com/h683dzq, hoping to raise money for her brother’s medical bills.

“We’ve gotten a little over $900, but until Ray (Swinson) is capable of taking (Tharpe) to court, right now it’s only what he (Swinson) has in liability that’s going to cover the medical costs. Ray doesn’t have any insurance so it’s definitely going to be a (difficult) financial situation.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.